The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2021

“I wanted to play drums because I fell in love with the glitter and the lights, but it wasn’t about adulation. It was being up there playing.” – Charlie Watts

And there goes another year without a single metal concert in Canada. Another year full of uncertainties, fears, polarization, restrictions, and everything else we “love” so much. I honestly don’t know what to say about 2021 apart form the fact it was undoubtedly much better than 2020, but that means nothing considering the total nightmare that 2020 was. We lost a lot of huge names in the rock and metal scene such as Joey Jordison, Dusty Hill, Mike Howe, Johnny Solinger, Marsha Zazula, Alexi Laiho, John Hinch, John Lawton, Charlie Watts and Hank Von Hell, among many others. Tons of festivals including Download, Wacken Open Air, Hellfest, Bloodstock Open Air, Sweden Rock Festival and Dynamo MetalFest were scheduled to return this year after the 2020 editions of those festivals were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but unfortunately Sweden Rock, Hellfest, Download and Wacken Open Air were once again cancelled. With that said, why do we metalheads still believe in a better future? Is it because, despite all adversities, our favorite bands released some of their best albums from the past few years?

Hence, as new lockdowns are being imposed upon us in a never-ending pandemic loop, there’s not much we can do but enjoy The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2021, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, keeping us sane until this madness is finally over. Or maybe I should say if it will be over one day, of course. There’s a bit of everything for all types of fans, from classic Heavy Metal to the brutality of Death Metal, from the modern nuances of Melodic Death Metal to old school Thrash Metal, and so on, and in my humble opinions one of the most interesting facts about several albums launched in 2021 is their duration, with many of those surpassing the one hour barrier such as Senjutsu, Helloween, Persona Non Grata, Existence Is Futile and Blood on Blood, not to mention the over four hours of music from the Lordiversity boxset, which for me proves how much the bands responsible for those albums love their fans by offering them a lot of new music to enjoy during such difficult times. I would say that even if there are ZERO metal albums launched in 2022, we’ll still have a lot of great music to enjoy throughout the year thanks to all the amazing records released in 2021, don’t you agree?

1. Iron Maiden – Senjutsu (REVIEW)
Behold another masterpiece by the one and only Iron Maiden with its 82 minutes of tactics, strategy, war, resilience and determination.
Best song of the album: Hell on Earth

2. Helloween – Helloween (REVIEW)
A dream come true for all generations of “Happy, Happy Helloween” fans from all over the world.
Best song of the album: Skyfall

3. Trivium – In the Court of the Dragon (REVIEW)
It’s time to join Trivium in the court of the dragon to the sound of their magnificent new opus.
Best song of the album: Like a Sword Over Damocles

4. Exodus – Persona Non Grata (REVIEW)
Don’t be a “persona non grata” in the world of heavy music and get into the circle pit to the sound of this newborn thrashing beast.
Best song of the album: Lunatic-Liar-Lord

5. Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined (REVIEW)
State of the art Death Metal played with passion and breathless precision by the most violent and unrelenting band of all time.
Best song of the album: Surround, Kill, Devour

6. 1914 – Where Fear and Weapons Meet (REVIEW)
Ukraine’s own doom infantry is back into the battlefield with another masterpiece, telling the gruesome tales of World War I.
Best song of the album: Pillars of Fire (The Battle of Messines)

7. Motorjesus – Hellbreaker (REVIEW)
Let’s drive through the fires of hell together with one of the best bands from the German rock and metal scene.
Best song of the album: Hellbreaker

8. Nervosa – Perpetual Chaos (REVIEW)
A deadly and thrashing lesson in perpetual chaos by four metalheads hailing from Brazil, Italy, Spain and Greece
Best song of the album: Time to Fight

9. Gojira – Fortitude (REVIEW)
Let’s all face up the world to the sound of the new masterpiece by one of the most dynamic bands of the current metal scene.
Best song of the album: Amazonia

10. Blaze Bayley – War Within Me (REVIEW)
The man who will live for a thousand years is back, inspiring us all to fight the war within us and to take our future in our own hands.
Best song of the album: Pull Yourself Up

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Running Wild – Blood on Blood (REVIEW)
12. Lordi – Lordiversity (REVIEW)
13. Cradle of Filth – Existence Is Futile (REVIEW)
14. Diabolizer – Khalkedonian Death (REVIEW)
15. Angelus Apatrida – Angelus Apatrida (REVIEW)
16. Moonspell – Hermitage (REVIEW)
17. Lutharo – Hiraeth (REVIEW)
18. Unflesh – Inhumation (REVIEW)
19. Scarlet Aura – Genesis of Time (REVIEW)
20. Coiled Around Thy Spine – From The Ashes (REVIEW)

In addition to all that, let’s bang our heads with our Top 10 EP’s of 2021 to prove once and for all that not all great albums of the year have to be so long. The EP’s from this list are simply awesome, showcasing the band’s talent and their ability to sound epic even if the music lasts for only a few minutes.

1. Eonian – The Nomad (REVIEW)
2. Lady Beast – Omens (REVIEW)
3. The Agonist – Days Before the World Wept (REVIEW)
4. Tantivy – Eyes in the Night (REVIEW)
5. Grale – AGITACIÓN (REVIEW)
6. Bouquet of Dead Crows – Hemispheres Part 2: Cerebral (REVIEW)
7. Kadavereich – Radiance Of Doom (REVIEW)
8. Wolvencrown – A Shadow Of What Once Was (REVIEW)
9. Juliet Ruin – Dark Water (REVIEW)
10. Black Hole Deity – Lair Of Xenolich (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2021? Also, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC+2 on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show! And if you lost some or most of our special editions of The Headbanging Moose Show, including our Top 20 Underground Albums of 2021 – Parts I and II, go to our Mixcloud page and there you have hours and hours of the best of the independent scene, sounds good?

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2022!

And before I go, I’ll leave you with some touching words by Mr. Lordi and his crew of monsters…

Something something blah blah to you
All the sincere wishes come true
I put vengeance on my wish list
And that’s what Santa brought
So have a merry something and a happy blah blah blah

Album Review – Motorjesus / Hellbreaker (2021)

Let’s drive through the fires of hell together with one of the best bands from the German rock and metal scene to the sound of their fantastic newborn album.

4.5rating

motorjesus-hellbreaker-2021Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to rev up your engines once again to the sound of the first-class, undisputed fusion of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock brought forth by Mönchengladbach, Germany-based rockers Motorjesus, who have just unleashed upon us all their brand new studio album, beautifully titled Hellbreaker. Following up on the success of their 2014 album Electric Revelation and their most recent opus Race to Resurrection, released in 2018, the band comprised of Chris “Howling” Birx on vocals, Andreas “Andy” Peters on lead guitars and Oliver Beck on drums, supported by their buddies Patrick Wassenberg on rhythm guitars and  Dominik Kwasny on bass, truly stepped up their game in Hellbreaker, offering fans of heavy music the perfect soundtrack for crossing the fires of the underworld in the best rockin’ style together with the band.

A cinematic start is quickly joined by the scorching riffs by Andreas and Patrick in the electrifying feast Drive Through Fire, before Chris comes ripping with his trademark, soaring vocals, inviting us all to hit the road in the name of Rock N’ Roll, and if you think that was awesome wait until you listen to the Motörhead-infused hymn Battlezone, with Oliver smashing his drums in great fashion accompanied by the rumbling bass by Dominik. Put differently, this song will sound beyond perfect if played live, and Motorjesus keep driving way over the speed limit in the superb Hellbreaker, where Chris beautifully sings the song’s rockin’ lyrics (“This is the meltdown / Generation of the steel / When the worlds collide, together / Between the angels and the hell machine”) while his bandmates not only kick some ass with their sonic weapons but also with their spot-on backing vocals. Then it’s time for a Southern Rock and Metal party together with the boys in Beyond the Grave, a neck-breaking tune showcasing the dirty, furious riffage by Andreas and Patrick supported by Dominik and his classic bass jabs, whereas putting the pedal to the metal once again the saviors of Rock N’ Roll will put us to dance in Dead Rising, where all band members are in absolute sync while Chris takes the lead with his visceral vocal lines.

You better have some inner fuel left as the band’s rockin’ energy keeps flowing nonstop in Car Wars, another amazing tune by those German rockers where the riffs and solos by the band’s guitar duo are absolutely thrilling, also presenting hints of our good old Rockabilly; and the thunderous bass by Dominik kicks off the Heavy Metal mid-tempo extravaganza Firebreather, as melodic and groovy as it can be, being therefore perfect for some headbanging, beer drinking and horns raising, not to mention its stylish lyrics (“Got no place to call my own / Another journey starts now / As we’re marching on / On the path that leads, / but it’s too soon / You’re on the crossroads to your doom”). More of their trademark Hard Rock is presented to us in the form of Lawgiver, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline with Andreas and Patrick once again stealing the spotlight with their refined axes, while Black Hole Overload is a heavier and denser creation by Motorjesus where the band’s stringed trio has all the support they need from Oliver’s pounding drums to shine with their Stoner Metal sounds. They still have enough stamina for another round of their frantic Rock N’ Roll in Back to the Bullet, once again inspired by the furious music by Motörhead, with Chris sounding truly enraged form start to fish for our total delight, flowing into the acoustic and smooth outro The Outrun, soothing our souls after such avalanche of incendiary heavy music.

motorjesus-2021I guess I don’t need to say that Hellbreaker, which is by the way available in full on Spotify, is a mandatory addition to your rock and metal collection, right? It’s undoubtedly one of the best albums of the year, and it will surely inspire you to bang your head and sing along with the band every time you hit the highway. Hence, don’t forget to give the guys from Motorjesus a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, to stream more of their gasoline-infused creations on Spotify, and above all that, to buy or stream your favorite version of Hellbreaker by clicking HERE or HERE. The one and only “Motorjesus”, perhaps the coolest guy you’ll ever find out there, is ready to break through the fires of hell armed with his undisputed Rock N’ Roll. Having said that, what are you waiting for to join him in his awesome adventure? Simply hit play, raise your horns, and enjoy the ride.

Best moments of the album: Battlezone, Hellbreaker, Dead Rising, Car Wars and Back to the Bullet.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 AFM Records

Track listing  
1. Drive Through Fire 5:52
2. Battlezone 3:36
3. Hellbreaker 4:07
4. Beyond the Grave 3:40
5. Dead Rising 3:47
6. Car Wars 3:35
7. Firebreather 4:28
8. Lawgiver 5:05
9. Black Hole Overload 4:35
10. Back to the Bullet 3:51
11. The Outrun 1:55

Band members
Chris “Howling” Birx – vocals
Andreas “Andy” Peters – lead guitars
Oliver Beck – drums

Guest musicians
Patrick Wassenberg – rhythm guitars (live/session)
Dominik Kwasny – bass (live/session)